Portion of Council Bluffs Exceeds Lead National Air Quality Standard


November 23rd, 2011 by Ric Hanson

Officials with the Iowa DNR Wednesday said they had received the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) finalized determination that a 3.4 square mile area of central Council Bluffs violated the national air quality standard for lead in 2010 and is designated in nonattainment. The only known source of lead emissions in this area is Griffin Pipe Products Company.

The DNR began working with Griffin Pipe in 2010 to implement changes to reduce lead emissions. Griffin Pipe completed facility modifications and installed controls to reduce lead air emissions in early 2011. As of Nov. 15, 2011, the DNR’s Council Bluffs lead monitor has not registered any violations. In 2010 the Council Bluffs lead monitor measured six violations of the national standard.

The lead nonattainment area in Council Bluffs consists of industrial, commercial and residential areas. It is bounded by Avenue G on the north, North 16th/South 16th Street on the east, 23rd Avenue on the south, and North 35th/South 35th Street on the west. The EPA allows areas in nonattainment 18 months from the effective date of designation ― in this case Nov. 22, 2011 ― to develop and implement plans to reduce the exceeding air pollutant within five years.

The DNR will continue to monitor the area to determine whether additional measures may be needed to remain at or below the national air quality standard for lead. The standard is 0.15 micrograms per cubic meter of air, measured as a consecutive three-month rolling average.

Lead emitted into the air can be inhaled or ingested after it settles. Depending on the level of exposure, lead can affect the nervous system, kidney function, immune system, reproductive and developmental systems, and the cardiovascular system. There is no known safe level of lead in the body.